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COLCO Meeting Minutes

SEPTEMBER 30, 2000

1. COLCO held its seventh meeting at the Douglas Recreation Centre in Langley.

2. There were over 100 people in attendance.

3. John Grasty called the meeting to order at 1:00pm and welcomed all present.

CHAIRMAN’S REMARKS : On September 13, 1999, a group of about 35 citizens met in Vancouver and the Coalition of Leaky Condo Owners (COLCO) was formed.  Since those meager beginnings COLCO has become a focal point and an irritant, constantly in the face of government and developers.

In June COLCO started a web site www.myleakycondo.com and during August it received over 100,000 hits.

COLCO representatives have invited industry professionals and self proclaimed industry experts to explain their claims that the Building Code caused this disaster; there are still no takers.

Developers have spent millions on advertising this past year trying to buy back confidence in the industry that they themselves destroyed.  COLCO wonders what correlations there are between record low housing starts and record high bankruptcies and foreclosures? Newly educated and wary consumers are requesting COLCO’s latest Leaky Rotten Condo List in droves.  We could possibly have a best seller on our hands.  Much to the chagrin of developers, various leaky condo owner groups have participated in legal Walkabouts throughout the summer. COLCO will continue to warn potential buyers using our limited donations and resources.

John recalled some of the motions that were passed at COLCO meetings over the past year including March’s call for a moratorium on Residential Construction in Surrey, and April’s motion in Richmond to have the government declare the situation an official disaster. (please see those meetings’ minutes for details)  The question remains, when will governments understand this is a disaster by their own definition (see web site for federal government definition of a disaster) and do what it is right for Canadians?
(Click here to see BC Govt Definition of Disaster)

4. PRESENTATIONS: Dr. James Balderson gave a presentation entitled: Leaky Rotten Condos: More than we ever wanted to know.  Dr. Balderson drew links between social Darwinism, social justice, democratic socialism, free enterprise, and consumer activism.

Dr. Balderson reviewed some of the efforts of COLCO over the past year to measure the scope of the disaster and battle for 100% accountability and compensation.  
We are now approaching 40,000 Leaky Rotten Condos on the upcoming list.  This October is the 1st anniversary of first list, which started at 60 buildings.  The most recent list available is from June 2000, but another update will be available from the www.myleakycondo.com webite in October.  A recent Freedom of Information request was refused.  The government will still not release their HPO list.  What are they hiding? 
Dr. Balderson reminded us of the recent passing of Pierre Elliot Trudeau and that it was his government that guaranteed us our individual rights in the charter.  We must use them – or lose them.
The construction industry is still benefiting and many owners are still without a sound warranty plan for envelope repairs.

Social Darwinism and Justice:
Social Darwinism as the name implies, is the phenomenon of “economic survival of the fittest” among a group of people.  Dr. Balderson proposed that leaky condo owners are feeling weak, worn out, and they are sick and tired suffering hardships and health concerns; while the developers and builders, through this transfer of wealth from leaky condo owners, are living in lavish multimillion dollar homes.  Nat Bosa lives in a 7 million home.  He “looks after customers” and “builds quality.  Norm Cressey just bought a new home on SW Marine Drive.  Cressey’s son Scott doesn’t like COLCO, and doesn’t like Cressey owners to talk about their “quality” dwellings. Why can Polygon advertise “new generation buildings” nothing they are doing now couldn’t have been done differently earlier.  Many of our “quality” builders and developers are running to San Diego, Calgary, or Seattle.  We should be happy they are leaving.
The message to developers from our various levels of government and the RCMP is:  “you can travel the world looking for new and interesting names for Leaky Rotten Condos”.
Media coverage has been spotty due to the control these wealthy individuals exert over the press.  Vancouver Sun killed a series on the problem.
And justice via the RCMP has been elusive.  The Barrett 2 report was supposed to be submitted to legislature in its entirety within 15 days of completion.  Instead parts of it were ripped out and went to the RCMP for investigation.  After only “reviewing” Barrett’s findings, the RCMP later put out a press release stating “no evidence of criminal wrongdoing”.  As a result the Urban Development Institute pronounced themselves “clean”.  But was there actually an investigation?  Rudy Eylmann and Dr. James Balderson discovered while inquiring with the RCMP that there was no investigation! (a collective “tsk” was heard in the meeting room).  An investigation was promised to James Balderson and reported in COLCO minutes.  RCMP now say they used an unfortunate choice of words (“investigation”) to describe what they intended to do with Barrett 2.  Dr. Balderson contacted Attorney General’s office – why did they withhold the report if no proper investigation was warranted?  To this day they have not answered.  Rudy Eylmann and Dr. Balderson submitted a recent query to the BC Government Ombudsman.  COLCO demands to know why there was no investigation!

Justice and Democratic Socialism
Did the Provincial government do the right thing with the recommendations from Barrett 2?  Did they give us money? No, only loans.  According to the HPO website, 80% of applicants receive the loan.  But what they don’t say is that 80% don’t apply.  That 80% is either too “rich” or maybe they don’t want to tell the government how much money they have?  Dr. Balderson encouraged all in the room to get the loan if they can…and to demand a repayment schedule of zero or close to zero.
Representatives of COLCO have met with top Liberal Housing critic; It is noted that Gordon Campbell’s Liberals have no plan on the table to help the victims. 

Corporate Behaviour
What are we dealing with? Fiasco…incompetent builders…homes peddled fraudulently…with phony warranties…leaky rotten schools and hospitals too.  The problems were evident in 1974. And in 1974 the provincial government had the opportunity to do what they finally did in 1998-2000
The Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) and the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association (GVHBA) created the New Home Warranty (NHW) plan to ward off government regulations.

NHW was owned and controlled by CHBA.  A phony trust called the RCI Residential Construction Institute was created to fend off Revenue Canada.  Their mandate was education, but what courses did they put on?  When asked they claim “we didn’t understand what the problem was”, so they didn’t run a course on the prevention of leaky rotten condos.  NHW, prior to going bankrupt, had a history of deny, delay and do the minimum.
COLCO demands a forensic investigation of all three organizations, the NHW, CHBA, and RCI.  Without an audit, they might just get away with it.

Bottom line:  Consumer Activism
The Barrett Report speaks of “renewing, restoring confidence in BC’s construction industry”.  What can each victim do in response?  Continue efforts to spread the word to protect future consumers, explain to others what a proper repair is, and prevent the “patch and run” goo (sealant) companies from winning more projects.
To date, James Balderson has copies of 150 engineering reports: they all say the same thing, the same mistakes the same resolutions.  With all the legal battles, court dates are scheduled well into the year 2002 and longer.  Lawyers are getting rich from the fiasco; driving jags and sipping cocktails with the development crowd.

We will have social justice when the province looks after the victims.  Leaked, rotted, crumbled buildings drained our pockets.

Questions from the floor to Dr. Balderson
Q. Ms. Hella Prante spoke on behalf of her mother (Mountainview Maple Ridge) who is considering small claims actions against at least three parties involved in building and selling her condo.  Hella asked whether this might be a successful strategy.  
A. Dr. Balderson encouraged Hella to seek legal advice, the HPO and CMHC documents, and expressed encouragement to Hella in seeking some form of justice.  One of our members is suing BOSA-DALEX (to date the judges have been agreeing with her in terms of disclosure.  Comment from Donna Moore (James Court) – HPO will advance money to sue developers and contractors with an engineering report and a passed resolution from the strata.  Get the legal funds advanced and added onto your loan.

Q. Bill Williams of Chelsea Green (Prime Developments).  How many elderly people and veterans in the room? (many) Who has approached veteran’s affairs?  A: He encouraged them to contact Ottawa.

Q:  A Representative from Meadow Springs in Abbotsford asked what are the possibilities of getting money from NHW?
A:  4 cents on the dollar – but the lawyers are being paid. 
Jan Pullinger recently told a reporter that she was hiring Peter Leask and would have some audit options by the end of this month.  There were also some discussions about “Preferred” as a repair contractor.  COLCO has discovered that Gerry Vandermey from many non-bid repair contracts to Preferred.  The Nottingham, upon getting a quantitative surveyor discovered they were overcharged by more than 30%.  Preferred is symbol PFD on the CDNX…check it out.  A recent proposal infront of the BC Security Exchange Commission if passed will make 3-4 people from Preferred instant millionaires.

Q:  Can Builders and Real Estate agents be charged criminally for knowingly selling leakers (where the building leaks before selling out)?
A:  Again Legal advice was suggested, but it comes down to intent.  And did they profit?  One option is to lay a “failure to disclose” complaint with the real estate licensing board.



5.1 Maureen Rhodes gave an update on the upcoming Whistler bus trip, Communications, and Walkabouts.  A bus trip is planned for Whistler for the October 28 Liberal convention. Call Cathy at 515-9118 to sign up.  Dress up for Halloween in a costume!  Alternatively, complexes can arrange their own buses if the numbers are warranted. COLCO volunteers do not have the resources to continue mailing and faxing communications to the ever increasing number of members, therefore COLCO suggests that members look to the website or the email list for their updates.
Walkabouts – we have had quite a few. If any strata would like to hold their own walkabout, we won’t arrange it, but we will join and support it. COLCO Logo Umbrellas are available at a cost of $40.  The Chair commented on Maureen’s hard work and thanked her for her efforts.

5.2 Ian Thompson asked “Is there a representative for MLA's Rich Coleman or Lynn Stephens here?  (there no response from the floor; however COLCO acknowledges that federal PC candidates Lee Johnson and Beverly Braaten were present)  We understand that Rich Coleman is occupied with a family medical situation, but Lynn Stephens was invited to this meeting and is missing a wonderful opportunity to sit with her constituents and educate herself.  Ian urged everyone in the riding to call Lynn and ask her why she isn’t here and asking questions in the house.  Call all your MLA’s on Monday.  Mr. Buglioni affirmed that Lynn Stephen’s office has indicated that she is not interested in the leaky condo issue.

5.3 Martin Martens gave an update on the Pour-Gee awards.  Earlier this year, it became apparent that the Georgie awards were having trouble.  COLCO was concerned that the poor builders and developers may go a year without an award ceremony, so COLCO created the Pour-Gee awards.  Martin encouraged everyone to go to the website, or mail in a request to nominate a builder, developer etc.  Announcement of nominees will be on Nov 25.  A vote will be held.  Examples of awards include “Malicious Mortgage”, “Flapping Tarp”, “Rusty Nail”.

5.4 Bonnie Sainsbury invited everyone to join the COLCO email list (there is approximately one message per week from the list).  Instructions on how to join the list are on the www.myleakycondo.com website.

5.5 Dr. James Balderson gave an update on the October Leaky Rotten Condo list:  500 million in repairs – will be shooting past one billion before long.  He encouraged everyone to buy a COLCO umbrella, write letters and help on the political front.

5.6 John Grasty: Simma Holt (an MP in the Trudeau caucus) was recognized by the Chair.  Simma has submitted motions for the Liberals to deal with leaky condos at their Convention in Whistler;  A public (interdisciplinary academic) symposium on leaky condo research is being put together and ideas are welcome;  The Homeowners Protection office (HPO) has been receiving suicide calls from distressed owners of leaky rotten condos.  Therefore, crisis line pamphlets have been made available on the table near the entrance of the hall;  Media – continue to write letters to media and politicians when you get home.  Do it at least once a month. 


6.1 Ms. Carmen Maretic, Guest Presenter, President, Compensation and Accountability to Soaked Homeowners (CASH)

CASH is a non-profit organization registered under the BC Society Act.  CASH is a think tank with an action plan to reimburse all soaked homeowners (condos, co-ops, single family etc) for their repair costs.  CASH believes that the strength our group lies in its numbers.  Tens of thousands of lives have been impacted by the crisis.  CASH determined that 57 of the 79 provincial ridings and 24 of the 34 BC federal ridings are affected.  Most of these seats are won with less than 1,000 votes.  The upcoming elections will give a voice to the owners of leaky homes.  A questionnaire has been developed and sent to each candidate in these ridings.  The questionnaire includes a section which compels each of the candidates to state their (or the respective parties’) position on several compensation package options.
The responses will be posted in October on www.soakedhomes.com

CASH recognizes that many owners are too tired to spend any more energy on the leaky home issues.  They have devised a simple plan, which only requires the participation of 1% of affected owners.  CASH has asked COLCO for support in finding one “captain” per affected building.  Each captain will be asked to assist CASH in collecting a toonie per unit.  The captains will be responsible to distribute the above questionnaire results and encourage owners to vote in both upcoming elections.  CASH will be utilizing a TV commercial to increase awareness and to compel affected owners to become involved. 

(The video commercial was shown at the meeting:  it began by panning over some exterior tarps, then showing the halls and doorways of an affected building.  From behind each door, there are audio clips of the tragedies that are on the other side;  losing a home, marriage problems, sickness from the mould etc. Very powerful)

Toonie donations and an upcoming event, “Dancing in the Rain”, will pay for the commercial to be aired.  The Dancing in the rain event will be held October 20 in Port Coquitlam.  The cost is $50 per person for the dinner and dance and the event is well on its way to being sold out.  Tickets can be purchased from Carmen at 469-8539 or more info can be obtained from the www.soakedhomes.com website.

Questions from the Floor: 
Q: Simma Holt asked Carmen to explain how a pilot program worked in Port Moody municipal elections. A: Pollsters found that the CASH charts were showing up at the polling station.  Some candidates did better than expected due to their stated support of compensation.
Q: Meredith Porter of Boardwalk (Cressey): Were the parties asked if they had no assistance to offer? A:  there was a yes, no , and unsure choice on the questionnaire.  Much of the traffic on the website so far is from political parties and candidates.  They seem to be understanding the importance.

7.0 ADJOURNMENT at 3:30 pm
A total of $332.36 in donations was collected at this meeting.

Updated Oct. 7, 2000
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